Smoking parents an ill wind for children’s health

Children exposed to passive smoking can suffer irreversible heart and lung damage, a new study has found. Passive smoking kills more than 600,000 people around the world annually, the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, with findings from an international study, has found. Almost two-thirds of these deaths are related to heart disease. Menzies Research Fellow Dr Seana Gall said the health of arteries was studied on participants aged over 20 to determine the effects of passive smoking on children in their adult life. “We found that people who have been exposed to parental smoking when they were children had less elastic arteries, an early indicator of poor cardiovascular health,” Dr Gall said. Effects of passive smoking were seen up to 30 years after the children were exposed to passive smoke, including permanent damage to their heart, lungs and blood vessels. The next stage of research is to determine ways to predict whether children who are exposed to their parents’ passive smoke go on to have strokes and heart attacks, Dr Gall said. “We are now looking at whether being exposed to parental smoking is associated with the thickness of the walls of people’s arteries in their necks,” she said. MRIT researchers are urging smoking parents to keep children away from harmful second-hand smoke to decrease the risk of prolonged health risks.

Herald Sun, 23 May 2012 ; ;